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10/26/2010

Careful which film icons you invoke, Congressman King

by Jeremy Hooper

At yesterday's "Judge Bus" stop in Winterset, IA, Congressman Steve King is quoted as saying:

John Wayne would want you to vote NO" (on retaining Iowa's pro-equality judges) [SOURCE]

But here's the thing: The late John Wayne is also on record saying of Native Americans:

500Full-John-WayneOur so called stealing of this country was just a question of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.” [Playboy, 1971]

And saying of African-Americans:

I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.
....
"It's not my judgment. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background" [Playboy, 1971]

So while he was a good actor, American icon, and native Iowan, we think we'd be careful about playing the "John Wayne would've..." game. It's likely that time did evolve his views up until the time of his 1979 death. It's possible that these quotes don't reveal what was truly in his heart. But the archived record is the archived record. The raised questions would seem to more fully embolden the side that is seeking minority protection, not modern day limitation.

***

*As for where he stood on gays: In a 1970s interview with The Advocate, he did refer to homosexuality as abnormal, going on to compare gay pride to tuberculosis victim pride. Here's one quote that The Advocate re-ran in 1994.

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